Why the Conference Room Pilot is Essential
The ERP conference room pilot (CRP) is a crucial step on the pathway towards your success with any ERP platform. Through demonstrating the functionalities of your new software to key stakeholders and decision-makers within your company, the pilot gets the project off on the right foot and defines a clear scope for implementation efforts. Having employees and team members across departments interact with the software early on will help your project team understand areas of the software that may need customization work. It also acts as an early training and software adoption tool across the organization. After all, if your coworkers can see just how much your ERP will support and streamline their day-to-day tasks, they’ll be even more excited to get started on it when it comes time for go-live. That means higher user adoption without extra effort on your part! Your ERP conference room pilot will no doubt be a critical building block in the first steps of your ERP project, and it’s crucial that you take the time to plan the stage out thoughtfully to ensure that you take advantage of all of the possible benefits.
Keep the Project on Task
Facilitating goal-setting is one of the most valuable benefits of a successful ERP conference room pilot. By defining the system and the exact business processes it will be designed to support, you can delineate the priorities and targets you hope to achieve with your new ERP. As soon as you decide on your ERP vendor and put your name on the dotted line, you should be scheduling time for the various different pilots into your implementation plan. This should also accompany a regular schedule to test out the software and look over project goals so that your team can adjust goals according to success or setbacks.
Outlining specific, achievable goals is one of the easiest ways to avoid scope creep within your ERP project. By continually referring back to the original goals and expectations set during your ERP conference room pilot, executives will have a clear vision of what the system will look like and what it will be able to do on go-live day. This helps to circumvent the inevitable disappointment that can come when employees and leadership alike accrue unreasonable expectations about the software’s functionality. Setting down specific times for the pilots will also keep the ERP project team focused on what needs to get done so that you can progress through your stages efficiently and without mistakes.
Find Potential Weak Spots
Throughout the series of conference room pilots, you will be able to accurately track and understand the progress of your ERP system and how quickly it will integrate into your business. Some parts of your new ERP system will be intuitive, while other aspects will not. The CRP is one of the first times that you will be able to begin picking these aspects apart and setting out a plan towards making sure that any problems or pain points disappear by go-live. One of the biggest factors of catastrophic ERP failure is poor planning and a lack of safety nets for every possible scenario that could go wrong with your ERP. A detailed CRP will alert you ahead of time on where to start building those safety nets, and help you understand how to think about the integral relationship between your software and your business processes.
If there’s a certain functionality within the ERP that’s proving to be more difficult than others, or a hole in the system that needs to be patched so that it can provide all the functionality you need, the CRP is one of the first places that weakness will show. From there, you can get your developers and software experts to start immediately working out all the kinks.
Begin End-User Training
Those weak spots that you find within your ERP system will also provide a key opportunity to start building your change management and training strategy. You’ll quickly begin to learn common sticking points for employees, and they will be able to voice early concerns or complaints. That will help them get more involved in the training and implementation process and get each one to take more ownership of your new system. As you move through each ERP conference room pilot, different key members of your business will have the chance to work with the new software and carry out essential business processes in that testing environment, so they already have a period to get familiar with the software and common ways they will have to interact with it.
Going through a carefully considered ERP conference room pilot could prove to be the essential step your project needs to succeed. The testing stage does more than allow for reasonable goal-setting and training; it also serves an integral role in getting your entire company excited for the software and eager to use it. It is a crucial first stage in the ERP implementation process, and it’s vital that you take it as seriously as every other aspect of your project.
For more advice on how to tailor a conference room pilot towards your specific business needs and processes, get in touch with an expert at Datix today. An Epicor Platinum Partner, we have 20 years of experience helping businesses implement ERP systems at every stage of a project, from vendor selection to pilot testing to go-live. No matter what implementation stage you’re at, we can arm you with the right tools to tackle it.